"Essentially, every structure should be safe at all times," Hrubecky explains. The 1968 amendments to the building code made it virtually impossible for new buildings to be built with outdoor fire escapes; instead, fireproof inner stairwells fitted with sprinklers are preferred. But old buildings can still have exterior fire escapes, and they must be able to support a load equivalent to that which would be placed on an indoor fire escape during a fire. That means that if there is no one inside who could use the escape, then it's safe to use.
The best protection against fire is prevention. Fire hazards must be eliminated or controlled in any building without an automatic fire alarm system. This includes buildings with only one floor above ground level. If you're concerned about safety in an older building, contact your local city hall to find out what codes apply to these structures. Also check with your insurance company to make sure that you're not being charged more because of any fire code violations.
In conclusion, old buildings can be dangerous if not maintained properly. It's important that owners perform regular inspections of their properties to ensure that no problems are hidden behind closed doors. If you find anything amiss, such as broken windows or graffiti, call a professional repair service immediately so that no additional damage occurs while you wait for things to be fixed.
For nearly a century, architects have been concerned about fire safety in tall structures. However, occupant protection from such fires was not addressed until the 1970s. This article discusses the particular fire safety issues that arise in high-rise apartment buildings, as well as the accompanying fire risk. It also reviews some of the major codes and standards that affect fire safety in these buildings.
Fire safety in high-rise apartment buildings has become a significant concern for both code officials and building owners. The increased number of older apartment buildings in many cities around the country has made these structures prime targets for arsonists. In addition, the high cost of replacement can make these buildings attractive investments for criminals. Finally, poor maintenance practices can lead to structural defects which may cause fire damage without preventing occupants from escaping.
Code officials address fire safety in high-rise buildings by requiring certain types of fire protection systems in all residential floors above the first floor. These systems should be capable of withstanding any fire that would not likely spread beyond that floor area. Codes also require fire extinguishers to be located in each unit and accessible from each rental apartment.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has developed guidelines to help ensure fire safety in new construction and alterations to existing apartments. These guidelines include requirements for fire extinguishers in all rooms with smoke-producing appliances such as stoves or heaters, and fire walls between apartments to prevent spreading flames from one unit to another.
As the decades passed, fire escapes remained tied to numerous buildings and exposed to the elements, leading them to deteriorate in various ways. Fire escapes are not included in the design of new buildings as part of emergency egress. Instead, employers are required by law to provide safe means of escape for their employees. If an employee is unable to use the exit stairs, a fire alarm should trigger a door opening mechanism such as a pushbutton or pullchain release.
The only way to improve fire safety for existing buildings is through retrofitting. But due to cost constraints, this option is available only for high-risk buildings.
Building codes have also changed over time. In the early years of skyscrapers, there were no requirements for fire escapes. As buildings became taller, so did the risk of people falling from elevated places. In fact, between 1900 and 1990, more than 100 people died in the United States after being thrown from buildings.
So beginning in the 1970s, building officials started requiring fire escapes on commercial buildings over 10 stories tall. And in 1994, these requirements were extended to all buildings over 7 floors including residential apartments and hotels with more than 28 rooms.
Since then, many improvements have been made to fire escapes.
Interior stairwells are safer for egress reasons because to contemporary fire rules and building structure. Dry wall can have fire resistance ratings of 2 hours or greater. It is sometimes safer to stay put than to go. Fire drills teach people how to escape danger quickly and safely.
Fire escapes were originally built as a safety feature on high-rise buildings as a way for their occupants to evacuate in an emergency. The first recorded use of the term "fire escape" was in 1872, but they had been previously existing as a form of balcony or decking on some buildings for years before that.
Today, fire escapes are still found on some buildings as a means of egress. They may be located on either side of a floor-to-ceiling window or within an interior corridor. The distance that people have to travel to reach them will vary depending on the type of building they are in. But in general, they are neither near nor easy to find if you are outside looking in.
The lack of fire escapes has become a controversial topic over time. Some critics claim that this is a serious oversight in current building codes that could lead to deaths in emergencies. Others argue that not having fire escapes on new buildings is the safest option for residents because it means that there are no stairs people can break their necks on during an evacuation.